Joliet Catholic Academy

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Joliet Catholic Academy
Joliet Catholic Academy (logo).png
1200 North Larkin Avenue
Joliet, Illinois 60435
United States
Coordinates 41°32′44″N 88°07′26″W / 41.5456°N 88.124°W / 41.5456; -88.124
Type private, coeducational, secondary, parochial
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1990 (1869 as Saint Francis Academy, 1918 as De LaSalle High School)
Founder Mother Mary Alfred Moes
Oversight Diocese of Joliet
Teaching staff 53
Grades 912
Enrollment 857 (2008)
Campus type suburban
Color(s)      columbia blue
Slogan Inspiring Growth in Knowledge and Faith
Athletics conference East Suburban Catholic Conference
Team name Hilltoppers (m)
Angels (f)
Accreditation North Central Association of Colleges and Schools[1]
Publication 41—88
Newspaper The Victory View
Tuition US$10,400[2]
Affiliation Carmelites
Joliet Franciscan Sisters

Joliet Catholic Academy (Joliet Catholic or JCA) is a coed Catholic High School located in Joliet, Illinois. It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet. One of the oldest Catholic high schools in the Chicago area, Joliet Catholic is perhaps best known for its prowess in football. Since the advent of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state football playoffs in 1974, JCA has won more state football titles than any other team in the state, with 13 as of 2007.

The modern school is itself the result of a merger between the all-girls St. Francis Academy and the all-male Joliet Catholic High School, which itself was formerly known as DeLaSalle High School for Boys. It is this merger that results in the school's shared affiliation with the Carmelites and the Joliet Franciscan Sisters.


The Joliet Franciscan Sisters opened St. Francis Academy in 1869 as an all-girls school. The academy was founded in a small stone building convent by Mother Mary Alfred Moes, who later would help found the Mayo Clinic. In 1923, the school moved to the campus of the University of St. Francis, which had opened in 1920. In 1956, the school moved to the building at 1200 N. Larkin, which is the current site of JCA.

George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago, had the De La Salle Christian Brothers create a new high school for boys as a part of their renovation of St. Patrick Church in Joliet. The school opened in 1918 as DeLaSalle High School for Boys with only two classrooms in the parish center, but moved to a new building in 1927. In 1933, the Carmelites took possession of the school, at which time, the school became Joliet Catholic High School.

In the summer of 1990, Joliet Catholic High School and St. Francis Academy merged to form the modern Joliet Catholic Academy.[3]


In terms of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the school offers Biology, Chemistry, U.S. History, Government and Politics, Spanish, and European History. The school also offers one of the two courses in AP English and AP Calculus.[4]


The men's teams at the school are referred to as the Hilltoppers, the same named used by the former Joliet Catholic High School, while the girls teams retain the name used by St. Francis Academy; the Angels. The school is a member of the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

The school sponsors teams for men and women in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Men also compete in baseball, football, and wrestling, while women also compete in softball, and cheerleading. The school also has a competitive dance team, which does not compete under the auspices of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

The football team host home games at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

The following teams have finished in the top four of their respective state championship series sponsored by the IHSA:[5]

  • Baseball: 3rd place (2007–08); 2nd place (1989–90, 1999–2000, 2003–04); State Champions (1993–94), (2008–09), (2012–13)
  • Football: 2nd place (1992–93, 1996–97, 2009-10, 2011-12); State Champions (1975–76, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1981–82, 1987–88, 1990–91, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2007–08)
  • Golf (boys): 3rd place (1956–57, 1959–60); 2nd place (1958–59); State Champions (1957–58)
  • Softball: 4th place (1987–88)
  • Volleyball (girls): 4th place (1998–99, 2005–06); 3rd place (1986–87, 2006–07); State Champions (2003–04, 2007–08, 2008-09, 2009-10)
  • Basketball (girls): 2nd place (2013–2014)

Of special note, the football team has won more football titles than any other team in the state. Since the start of the IHSA State Tournament for football in 1974, JCA has qualified for the playoffs 33 times (as of 2009–10 season)[6]

Notable alumni[edit]


  • James Otteson (Class of 1986) is a philosopher and economist. Currently he is Executive Director of the Eudaimonia Institute, as well as professor of economics and Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics, at Wake Forest University. He is also a Research Professor in the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona and a Senior Fellow at The Fund for American Studies in Washington, D.C.[7]







  • David Sims (Class of 1980) was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team in the 1500 meter freestyle. He was a member of the USA National Team from 1980 to 1986. At Stanford University, he was a NCAA All-America from 1981 to 1984.



Bob Zak (Class of 1979) is a radio personality who has performed on a variety of stations in the Chicago market including WJRC, WCCQ, WJOL, I-Rock, WKKD, WJTW, WCSJ as well as Chicago's WCFL, WCKG, Star Station, and Y107.9-The 1970s station, among others.

Notable staff[edit]

  • Gordie Gillespie was the football coach from 1959 to 1985, leading the school to five state titles. He has also served as the head baseball coach at the University of St. Francis (1977–1995 and 2006–2010). He is the all–time leader in baseball coaching victories among American college coaches, recording his 1,800th career win on April 3, 2009. He was named NAIA "Baseball Coach of the Century", and was named by the Chicago Tribune as the Head Football Coach for the "All-Time Illinois High School Football Team".[24][25]


  1. ^ NCA-CASI. "NCA-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "History of JCA" Archived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Curriculum guide Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ IHSA records for Joliet Catholic Academy
  6. ^ "IHSA Table of Titles – Football". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). 6 October 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy prompts Plainfield pride". Chicago Tribune. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2011-09-21. 
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^
  11. ^'R'&sectionType=career&statType=1&season=2012&level='ALL'
  12. ^
  13. ^'R'&sectionType=career&statType=2&season=2012&level='ALL'
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ 1981 MLB draft Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ a b Glenn, David (2007-06-27). "Terry Gannon, More ACC-NBA, Etc". Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  17. ^ "Terry Gannon". ABC Medianet. Archived from the original on 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  18. ^ Ed Mikan stats & bio;; accessed 1 January 2009
  19. ^ a b (2007-02-23). "George Mikan Biography". Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-16. 
  20. ^ Mike Alstott page at
  21. ^ "2011 Purdue Football Information Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-12. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  23. ^ Tom Thayer bio
  24. ^ Gillespie earns 1800th victory; 3 April 2009; Associated Press; accessed 4 April 2009
  25. ^ City of Joliet Hall of Fame: Gordie Gillespie; accessed 4 April 2009

External links[edit]